Although I don’t think that lawyers should treat clients as customers, nevertheless, lessons from customer service can sometimes be useful in managing clients. I found the suggestions in this piece, The New Customer Service Trend That’s Shaking Up the Marketing Industry to be especially on point.
First, the article distinguishes between customer-centric and customer-first marketing as follows:
Customer-centric marketing aims strategies AT the customer. You are looking at the customer as an end-goal. Customer-first marketing revolves AROUND the customer. You are making them an integral part of your marketing, research and development.
This applies equally well to clients. Many want to be part of the team, and make active suggestions about the strategy and goals for their case rather than having the lawyer call all the shots without explanation.
Customers also favor companies that put their needs above the company’s business goals. Often, that’s the job of lawyers as well. Although no one expects us to to go out of business in the name of pursuing a case, but they want to know that a firm has their interests in mind and that they’re not just another fee.
For lawyers who want to shift to a customer-first relationship with clients here are some best practices:
Walk Them Through the Process Take the time explain to clients upfront how a case will work. You can provide the information in a checklist or even have them view a video. As the case moves forward, respond to questions about where the case is headed. Have your customers done something awesome with your product or service? Why not work with them to share it with the world! Or simply highlight something about your customers – recognition makes everyone feel great about him or herself.
Be Proactive Keep clients up-to-date with news, changes and other things they’d find relevant. Let them reach out to you through multiple, fully-staffed channels using whatever method is most convenient to them. As the article concludes, “Customer-first marketing involves a great deal of feedback and discussion. Take the time to get to know your customers and work with them, rather than giving them a number and a ticket and hoping for the best.”
Do you have a client-first practice? What else do you do to serve the needs of clients?